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Success Stories

The Magic Bus Tours

Fort Collins has an amazing amount of things to see and do. No business, however, had offered a service as fun and forward thinking as Magic Bus Tours to create a unique and educational experience around the local activities.

“When I first started visiting Fort Collins, I loved learning about the local history, lifestyles and culture, but I couldn’t find another bus-tour service in town,” said Michael Murphy, founder and visionary behind Magic Bus Tours. “After moving to Fort Collins in 2011, my goal was to create a multimedia tour company to bring the tour to life while educating people about Fort Collins.”

His vision became a tour company with a 21-seat tour bus painted with whimsical artwork that exemplifies the culture, history, landmarks and environment of Fort Collins. Each tour features multimedia with audio, photos and video to bring a multidimensional perspective to the journey. Currently Magic Bus Tours offers a Fort Collins History Tour with a craft brew tour being added in May, a farm-to-table tour in June, and a ghost bus tour scheduled to start in September.

Murphy started the process to establish the business in May 2012, but knew it would be a big project and wanted to start it right. He turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Fort Collins for guidance and discovered a whole lot more.

“The SBDC was an incredible resource and gave me an incredible head start,” said Murphy. “They provided education in accounting, marketing and human resources to help me get past the learning curve and start my business off on the right foot.”

In addition to education, the SBDC also provided Murphy with assistance in choosing the best form of legal entity, how to collect sales revenue, and how to successfully yet cost effectively promote the business.

“I was grateful the SBDC could provide people in the know to improve my success because there were surprising hurdles along the way, such as overcoming regulatory requirements,” said Murphy.

Overall Murphy enjoys knowing that he wakes up each day doing something he loves and making his dream a reality.

“Although it took an insane amount of time to get the ball rolling, it feels good to see this living thing take shape,” said Murphy.

As Magic Bus Tours grows, the business will continue to be local and promote local. Long-term plans for the company include creating field trips for the Poudre School District and establishing a Fort Collins Story Project, a library of local oral history designed to capture stories about Northern Colorado that have shaped people’s lives.

“My advice to others who want to start their own business is to do your homework and connect with the SBDC office,” said Murphy. “They help establish a strong foundation for your business to help ensure it will succeed.”

Magic Bus Tours offers excursions year round with the greatest number of tours offered during the summer months. Many of the tours depart from the Sports Authority parking lot on College Avenue. Private tours can also be arranged by contacting Magic Bus Tours. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.themagicbustours.com.

Rocky Mountain Westy

You don’t often see a growing business based on a product that hasn’t been made in almost 20 years, but twin brothers Mike and Greg LaBate built this at Rocky Mountain Westy (RMW). RMW designs, manufacturers, and sells camping and lifestyle parts to Volkswagen Vanagon “Westy” van enthusiasts and service centers worldwide. These products help the van owner upgrade or convert the Westy van, often to performance levels above the original factory model, such as

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Spidertrax Off-Road

Thom Kingston helped start Loveland-based Spidertrax Off-Road not in a garage like some startups but in a fully equipped shop at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1999, Kingston and his former partner and co-founder, Eddie Casanueva, initially snuck into the school after-hours to develop and manufacture parts for the off-road industry until they got official approval and could work during the daytime. “We were manufacturing all of our parts, using the tools of

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Canna World Market Loveland CBD

Canna World Market Loveland not only sells CBD products but offers education. Mixed in with the CBD products Eric and Rachael Sudhalter sell at Canna World Market, is an assortment of plants against a backdrop of earthy greens and browns. “You walk in here, and it’s not all dark,” Rachael said. “It’s comfortable. It’s the whole vibe.” The Sudhalters aren’t about the quick sell. They like to take their time with customers, educating them about

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HomeCare of the Rockies

Sandi McCann of Longmont found that when she provided caregiving for her stepmother, she wanted the same kind of meaningful work in her professional life. Sandi had been a marketer for 27 years and was tired of the career, so she launched her own business. She and her younger sister, Maureen, who also desired a career change, started HomeCare of the Rockies, Inc., in April 2012. She is president and chief executive officer and a

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Cydney Springer Fine Art

Artist Brushes Up on Business, Social Media Skills After 25 years in northern Colorado as a graphic artist, copywriter, and greeting card designer, Cydney Springer put down the computer mouse and took up an artist’s paintbrush. With two years of study under other artists and a lifetime of interest in painting, she set out to capture the beauty and awe of Colorado landscapes. She works with oil paint in an Estes Park studio with windows

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Teaching Tree Early Childhood LC

Northern Colorado businesses are working hard to fill workforce needs. One of the main barriers is the availability and cost of child care, which can run as high as $16,000 annually for infant care. Teaching Tree, a nonprofit with facilities in Fort Collins and Loveland, has provided quality child care since 1970, with much of this care supporting low-moderate income families. Teaching Tree is undertaking an ambitious expansion that will double its child care capacity

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